Victimology – Child Sexual Abuse

Article Review: Tyler, K., Melander, L. (2013) Child Abuse. Street Victimization, and Substance Use Among Homeless Young Adults. (Youth Society, January. P. 1-18.)


The critiqued article is talking about the connection between child abuse, victimization and substance abuse problems. The research published studied 172 homeless young people, among whom many suffered from sexual or physical abuse during their childhood. The author also concludes that substance use among those who suffered from abuse was higher than among young adults who did not have to face the trauma.

One of the major findings of the study was that young adults examined during the research were using substances for various reasons:

  • To deal with ongoing violence
  • To deal with victimization
  • To cope with childhood trauma.


Sexual Abuse as a Learned Pattern

The article also concludes that while sexual abuse is common in families where substance abuse is present, young children who run away from home also face sexual victimization on the street. (Tyler and Melander, 2013, p. 3.) Further, it is evident that as children learn behavioral and coping patterns like substance abuse from parents, violence and sexual abuse in adulthood is also common among those who faced sexual victimization within the family or on the streets. (Bassuk, Dawson, Huntington, 2006)

The main hypothesis of the article is that children whose parents had drug or alcohol abuse problem are more likely to suffer from sexual victimization within the family and therefore, they are more likely to become runaways and follow their parents’ example of coping. The authors also conclude that the existence of child abuse in the person’s life would be closely related to later partner abuse, sexual victimization of others and substance misuse. (McMorris et al., 2002)

Child abuse was one of the independent variables of the measures within the research, alongside with victimization and demographic data. The sample consisted of 60 percent of male and 40 percent of female homeless young adults.


Study Findings

Females were more likely to have experience sexual abuse when there was a drug or substance abuse problem in the family. One of the most interesting findings is that childhood sexual abuse was closely related to street sexual victimization; those who experienced physical or sexual abuse in the family as a child were more likely to face the same problem on the street. The drug problem of the parents was also increasing the odds of having to face more types of sexual abuse and violence. (Tyler and Melander, 2013, p. 10.)


Conclusion and Critique

While it is evident that there is a close direct relation between childhood abuse, sexual victimization and later substance abuse, and the hypothesis of the article has been proven, a real solution is not clearly defined by the authors. As a consequence of the research results, an abusive family environment where physical, sexual abuse and substance problems are present is a direct cause of children ending up on the street, facing more violence, victimization and having substance abuse problems. This leads to the growth of the number of people who have low quality coping skills, the rise of crime and violence. Although it is important to know that there is a relationship between the two life situations, it is evident that the only way the trend can be turned back is to deal with sexual, physical and substance abuse within the family, before children would become runaways. This calls for a revision of current social services provisions and tools. (The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, 2003)


Tyler, K., Melander, L. (2013) Child Abuse. Street Victimization, and Substance Use Among      Homeless Young Adults. (Youth Society, January. P. 1-18.) Downloaded from    by guest on January 28, 2013

McMorris, B. J., Tyler, K. A., Whitbeck, L. B., & Hoyt, D. R. (2002). Familial and  “on-the-        street” risk factors associated with alcohol use among homeless and runaway adolescents.   Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 63, 34-43.

Bassuk, E., Dawson, R., & Huntington, N. (2006). Intimate partner violence in extremely poor     women: Longitudinal patterns and risk markers. Journal of Family Violence, 21, 387- 399.

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, 2003. Online.       <>